Low carbon environmental social housing projects

Norfolk to be part of an environmental housing project

87 social housing projects have been put in place across the UK, including Norfolk.

The effectiveness of a range of innovative new low carbon technologies, many of which have been developed by SMEs, are to be tested in 87 social housing projects across the UK, to make them carbon neutral.


The project – which is backed by Government funding – is being delivered through the Technology Strategy Board’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), a procurement scheme to encourage all businesses, but particularly SMEs, to engage with government departments and be prepared for future government procurement policy.

Click to find out more on the SBRI

According to project manager at the SBRI, 63 per cent of the social landlords, architects and construction companies selected for the project are SMEs – as are many of the suppliers they have chosen to work with.

One of these suppliers is a micro-company with just five employees, Wattbox Ltd, which has been enabled by the project to launch its intelligent heating system that constantly learns the residents’ living patterns and ensures hot water and heating programmes match the occupant’s lifestyle.

The Watt box will be installed in around 20 of the 87 sites, including The Norfolk project,  where the Science and Innovation Minister will officially launch the project later this morning.

The retrofit of several houses in Norfolk is the project of social landlord The Hyde Group, whose award-winning Retrofit and Replicate project in Nottingham achieved an 80 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions.

ECD Architects have planned what technology will be used in the property and Mears Group will be responsible for installing it.

Norfolk  project uses innovative new technologies

A particular challenge for the Norfolk properties is that it is in a conservation area.

Pioneering vacuum glazing, which reduces heat loss without the need for thick, air-filled double glazing, is one of the ways the project will reconcile the competing claims of conservation and carbon reduction.

Key features

Using innovative natural materials to help control moisture levels and heat recovery in high-temperature areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.

The insulation aspect of the projects involved insulating several lofts using sustainable materials to ensure every aspect of the project was as eco-friendly as possible.

Many of the homes had flat EPDM (rubber) roofing installed.

This is because not only because rubber is a widely recycled material, but because of its durability qualities, with a 50-year usage guarantee.

There will also be an air-tightness strategy, which will see existing vents and chimneys blocked, floors and ceilings insulated, and walls coated with modified plaster.

The Norfolk project, along with the 86 others, will each receive £150,000 to demonstrate deep cuts in carbon emissions and exemplary energy-efficient measures.

The performance of each demonstrator house will be evaluated by the Energy Saving Trust for at least two years.

“Retrofit for the Future provides the testbeds we need to ensure the development of long-term, mass solutions.

The Head of SBRI added that big problems like making the existing housing stock carbon-neutral, needed breakthrough solutions and that SMEs, particularly start-ups, are often best placed to deliver the innovative solutions required.

It was up to the SBRI, he said, to give such companies access to government departments and contracts, through initiatives like Retrofit for the Future.

More on whats going on in Norfolk.

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